Monday, August 27, 2012

A Lesson from Lewis

The other evening I was reading, from C. S. Lewis's little book, The Problem of Pain, the chapter in which he addresses guilt. His words on corporate and national guilt are quite applicable our day:
We feel ourselves to be involved in an iniquitous social system and to share a corporate guilt.  This is very true: but the enemy can exploit even truths to our deception.  Beware lest you are making use of the idea of corporate guilt to distract your attention from those hum-drum, old-fashioned guilts of your own which have nothing to do with ‘the system’ and which can be dealt with without waiting for the millennium.  For corporate guilt perhaps cannot be, and certainly is not, felt with the same force as personal guilt. For most of us, as we now are, this conception is a mere excuse for evading the real issue. When we have really learned to know our individual corruption, then indeed we can go on to think of the corporate guilt and can hardly think of it too much.  But we must learn to walk before we run.
– C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
It is easy to get on a righteous band wagon protesting homosexuality, abortion, socialism, government-dependency and the other God-denying evils swirling about us in our nation. These evils are worthy of our grief and are calls for us to repent and pray - but repent of what? Not just that myriads in our nation approve of homosexual behavior and killing babies, but that I myself have not faithfully crucified the flesh, that I love to please my senses and prefer convenience to loving sacrifice for others - for these sins in my heart are at the root of those sins in our nation. "We must learn to walk before we run." 

And where do we walk, and then run? To the cross of Jesus Christ. "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:2 ESV) Here, in Jesus Christ, my own guilt finds its solution, and here there is enough hope for nation of sinners.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Soul's Great Treasure

"Nor height nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:39, ESV

"The love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord". Here is everything to make my heart glad. Indeed, I am not safe being glad in anything apart from this.

Am I glad in a person who is dear to me? Let it be only because they are given to me by the "the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord". For if that loved one should be taken from me, I will be comfortless unless I have been assured that "the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" remains to be mine.

Am I glad in financial security? Let it be only be that my comforts are provided for me by the God who loves me in Christ Jesus our Lord. For if I should come to be in financial distress, "the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" assures me that I am, in poverty or wealth today, an heir of Heaven's joys tomorrow.

Am I glad in the love of friends? Let it be only that they dimly reflect my highest prize of "the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord". For if they should turn to hate me or forsake me, "the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" remains to my soul as the ceaseless gift of my dearest Friend.

Am I glad in my spiritual growth and holiness? Let me rejoice that it is a gift of "the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" and not my own cause of salvation. For if I should fall from this and sin and have need of repentance, "the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" remains to welcome me back as a changelessly-loved child.

The world and flesh and Satan would have me tie my heart around everything that is not enduring, everything that is liable to fail. And if I do, when that does fail, it will take my heart down with it, leaving me miserable. To be so firmly attached to anything perishing is perilous. Those who do not know God know this. The Buddhist philosophers know this, and counsel their followers to renounce all desires that they may feel no pain. This empty, self-renunciation, however, is powerless, because it cannot last beyond the grave.

Here is "the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" for His children. It burned brightly for them before time began, surrounds them ceaselessly all of their lives, and will carry them into the vastness of eternity, secure and happy. It is the hope that should get them out of bed in the morning, and the settled peace that should rest them quietly in bed at night. It is their sun above the dark clouds of earthly sorrow, and their anchor beneath the relentless waves of temptation. I must not live without the remembrance of my treasure, and when I remember, let me rejoice, for this most glorious possession can never be taken from me.